Destiny’s Conflict: Overflowing with vistas both grand and horrifying

Destiny’s Conflict by Janny Wurts epic fantasy book reviewsDestiny’s Conflict by Janny Wurts epic fantasy book reviewsDestiny’s Conflict by Janny Wurts

The wait for each installment in Janny Wurts’ THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series can be pretty long and grueling. Wurts is a Mastercraftsman and the amount of labor she puts into telling her story is evident in the finished product. She never fails to find the perfect (and often uncommon) adjective to paint a vivid and precise picture of what is happening in her story. Each of Wurts’ meticulously-crafted novels is absolutely worth the wait!

Please note that Destiny’s Conflict is the tenth book in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series (the second book of Arc IV: SWORD OF THE CANON). New readers will want to start at the beginning of THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW with The Curse of the Mistwraith. This review may contain small spoilers for earlier books in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series.

Destiny’s Conflict begins with Arithon, Master of Shadow, having been forcibly severed from basically all his support, thanks to the never-ending attempts by those powers who seek to establish Humanity as the preeminent concern on Athera. Arithon, with his familial gift of compassion, finds himself manipulated, once again, in the defense of an innocent. When he comes upon a seemingly innocent young woman being raped, his innate gifts kick in. The reality is that he is being trapped and when the fruits of that horrible charade yield a child, Arithon sets greater value in maintaining the future possibilities of that child than in his own freedom.

One of the central themes to this series has been Agency. Wurts doesn’t define it as such, but the underlying tenet is that each life has a right to inherent freedom of choice. The Fellowship Sorcerers are willing constrained by the essential right to Agency and must have permission before bringing their power to bear. The Fellowship seem to have been so easily manipulated that you begin to wonder if their descent into senility has begun. The mitigating factor is their ironclad adherence to the Compact between humanity and the Great Drakes who summoned them. Time and again it would have been so very easy for them to have cut a corner or two in order to save the life of an innocent and stave off mass slaughter. Their resemblance to Neville Chamberlain in 1938 is disheartening as they continually give ground to the forces of mankind who are bent on a course that will lead to complete destruction. The reality is that they have no other choice. They must respect Agency and live within the constraints they willingly accepted as terms of their custodial role for Athera.

Lysaer is not left out of this story, but his role is diminished thanks to one of the most wicked machinations I’ve ever seen. Lysaer attempts to assert a semblance of morality back into the forces of the religion of the light that he founded. The Korianthi and the leadership of the Canon will not be stopped and instead choose to attempt his assassination. For a large part of the book Lysaer is a non-factor because he is suffering the long-term rehabilitation as the longevity bindings that he gained from Davien force him to suffer as his body gradually heals.

I made my way through this installment of THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW slowly. There is depth to the story that made racing from page to page unwise. From the highs of encountering a unicorn to the lows of sexual assault, Destiny’s Conflict was overflowing with vistas both grand and horrifying. Arithon’s journey is torturous and the suffering of those who love him is acute. By the end of the book I felt wrung out as I debated if one life is worth the suffering and death of another. My longing for eventual vengeance on the deliberately murdering, power-ravening Korianthi grows with each installment. Even understanding the roots of how that order began, I can only hope that the eventual debt of karma they owe will come due soon.

Destiny’s Conflict is a masterpiece.

Published in October 2017. The long-awaited second book of the fourth story arc – Sword of the Canon – in the epic fantasy series, the Wars of Light and Shadow. Lysaer’s unstable integrity lies under threat of total downfall, and as his determined protector, Daliana will face the most frightening decision of her young life. Arithon, Master of Shadow, is marked for death and still hunted, when his critical quest to recover his obscured past entangles him in a web of deep intrigue and ancient perils beyond his imagining. Elaira’s urgent pursuit of the Biedar Tribes’ secret embroils her in the terrible directive of the Fellowship Sorcerers, while Dakar — the Mad Prophet — confronts the hard reckoning for the colossal mistake of his misspent past, and Tarens is steered by a destiny far from his crofter’s origins. The penultimate volume of The Wars of Light and Shadow will touch the grand depths of Athera’s endowment, and deliver the thrilling finale of arc IV, the Sword of the Canon. War, blood, magic, mystery – and the most hidden powers of all – will stand or fall on their hour of unveiling.

The Wars of Light and Shadow — (1993-2017) Booklist: For more than 500 years the Mistwraith has darkened the world of Athera. Where once were fields, flowers, and unicorns, there now are bareness, poverty, and desperation. The curse can be lifted only by the combined powers of two half-brothers who have been raised apart as enemies. Blond Lysaer, who grew up in the castle, is a born diplomat with a strong sense of justice and latent powers of light. Dark-haired Arithon, called the Master of Shadows, is skilled in music and magic and possesses an overwhelming empathy for all living things. When the two are thrown together in exile, an uneasy bond begins to form between them, and under the guidance of the Fellowship of Sorcerers, they work toward lifting the bane. But the Mistwraith fights back by twisting their talents and turning them against each other, plunging the kingdom into a bloody conflict. Read an excerpt of The Curse of the Mistwraith here. Listen to excerpts here. (Excerpts of other WoLaS books also available.)

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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